Diverging Australian and Indian Views on the Indo-Pacific

May 2015

Australia has a vital interest in preventing the Indian Ocean Region from becoming an arena of great power rivalry, including between India and China. The 2013 Defence White Paper clearly delineates the Indo-Pacific as an area of supreme importance to Australia. Developing a close strategic partnership with India is an important part of this strategy. However, there is a fundamental disconnect between Australian and Indian perceptions of the Indo-Pacific: on balance, Australia prefers to avoid being part of any formulation that could be seen as attempting to contain China and prefers an inclusive framework; by contrast, mainstream thinking in India has opposed the inclusion of China and is anxious about the growing visibility of China in the Indian Ocean Region. This means that Australia finds itself stuck in a cleft stick in managing China’s and India’s different views of the Indo-Pacific. This divergence in views leads to the potential for misunderstanding and conflict between Australian and Indian views.